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Camera in cold weather?


rick_foster
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Working outside it'll have the most profound effect on your battery life. Try carrying

several, and rotating between them as needed. Keep the ones not currently in use

somewhere close to your body, under layers, to keep them as warm as possible. It

wouldn't hurt to keep your camera protected under your coat as well when it's not in use.

 

Then when you go inside, to prevent condensation on your camera and lens, keep them

enclosed in a camera bag or plastic bag until your equipment equalizes to room

temperature.

 

have fun!

Peter

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It might have bad effect olso on very old cameras. Once I went out with Russian Zenit camera, about 25-30 years old manual. I guess that camera wasn't serviced at all. Temperature was about -15deg. of Celsia. Problem was that the shutter operated as B on any setting. But I don't think this may happen on new camera with electronic shutter.

 

Ivan

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It would depend on your camera.

 

If you are using a Pro level camera like a Canon F-1N then unless your going to be mucking about in -0F weather you should only need to take normal precautions for using a camera in cold. If you have a new wizz bang digital you may have some serious concerns with the operation of the camera at such temps.

 

Granted I'm not up on the new digitals but most I have read spec's on put the bottom of their operating range around 20F. In which case you will have to find a way to keep the camera within it's operating temp range.

 

If your using film at very cold temps film can become static charged and brittle so you need to wind on and rewind very very slowly to avoid any static bursts fogging the film or the film breaking off from the spools.

 

The Canon F-1N as a battery dependat camera requires that you manitian the battery at the operating temp which with this camera can be easily done by using a seperate battery pack using something like AA batteries kept in an inside pocket.

 

We need to know what camera oyu are using so any specific recommendatins can be made.

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The current Canon DSLR's (an dprobably Nikon etc too) all seem to have an operating temperature range of 0-40degrees C. (About 32 - 100 degrees F) I have used both the 300D and the 5D over this whole range and the 5D at minus 15 C fo a short time all without sighificant problems.

 

Two specific issues are to keep the battery as close to the middle of that range as practicable as the with cold the battery life decreases. (The battery will still work at 0 degrees C though but have a reduced life)

 

The other problem is when the lens is appreciably warmer than the ambient tewmperatire you will get condensation. The best way to get round this is to have the glass at ambient temperature.

 

So in cold conditions it is a matter of a compromise between keeping the lens cold enough to stop condensation and the battery warm enough to keep going.

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<I>The other problem is when the lens is appreciably warmer than the ambient

tewmperatire you will get condensation. The best way to get round this is to have the

glass at ambient temperature.<P>

 

So in cold conditions it is a matter of a compromise between keeping the lens cold enough

to stop condensation and the battery warm enough to keep going.</i><P>

 

No, no, no. You have it exactly backwards. You need to keep the camera/lens

<B>warmer

</b> than ambient (air) temperature to avoid condensation. Why do you think

condensation forms on a glass of iced drink? Because the surface of the glass is

<B>colder</b> than the air, specifically, colder than the dew point temperature. <P>

 

To repeat: as long as the temperature of the camera or lens is <B>warmer</b> than dew

point temperature, there will be no condensation. If the camera or lens is colder than dew

point temperature, condensation forms.

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"If you have a new wizz bang digital you may have some serious concerns with the operation of the camera at such temps."

 

Oh pulease.

 

As mentioned previously, keep your batteries warm and bring extras. Condensation is a concern so DON'T keep your camera in your jacket (even the humidity from your eye can fog the viewfinder of ANY camera). It will be fine the first time you use it (as it is warmer than the air) but when it has cooled off and you put it back into a warm humid environment it will fog badly. Again, this isn't anything peculiar to digital it is just physics.

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Truth is, if the weather gets really cold and you are an indoors potato you will freeze up much sooner than your camera. Inuits will fare better in their cold -20F degrees than their cameras, though.

 

Having to ask this question makes me think you will freeze up much before your camera.

 

And as a precaution: when you return to your living quarters, keep the cold camera well insulated inside a bag so the "hot" moist home air will not condensate all inside and outside the cold camera. Let camera warm up very slowly over the course of a few hours/half a day inside the bag.

 

Other than that: treat a camera as you would treat a car: enjoy!

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I was out before dawn the other day with my Nikon D80. The camera was out on a tripod the entire time, and I swapped out the battery with one kept in my shirt pocket twice. It was 20 below zero but thankfully warmed up to 16 below by the time I was done. Camera worked flawlessly and has since then too.

 

 

Kent in SD

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I've only used film cameras (35mm, 6x7's) and spent many hours with them out in the Alaska winters and every time I gave up before my camera did. It's been said, but the biggest thing to remember is when you camera is cold keep it cold, and don't go back and forth quickly. Let it come up to temp in the camera bag.
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Same considerations for film as lenses. While out you'll want to make sure there's not a big differential between the film's temp and the cameras temp, high or low. And it bears repeating, film gets brittle in bitter cold and can tear when loading/winding.

 

Also, tip for your hands. Look for some thick, windblocker fleece mittens which have ends that flip up to convert to gloves which leave your fingertips uncovered. Outdoor Research makes a pair as do others. Get a couple of small chemical hand warming packets and put them in the palms. Voila! Safe, toasty warm hands with fingertips that are quickly and easily free to manipulate small camera controls and quickly covered back up again. I've used this setup down to -20F in comfort.

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People have mentioned keeping the battery or batteries in your pocket to keep the warm. Its a very good tip but I would like to add an addendum. Don't put batteries in a pocket with a lot of change or other metal objects. I had one short out against a pocket full of change and didn't know it until I felt it get really hot against my leg.
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I have used both Pentax medium format and film SLRs to -40F/C. Two of my cameras, a Super Program and 6X7 have long battery cords which I keep in my pocket. Also the good old K1000 seems to be a very useable tool in the old. Sometimes exposures are off, I suspect the mechanics of the camera.
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All mechanical cameras generally have the least problems of any setup in the cold. The only issue with film as was mentioned is that really dry air increases the risk of a static charge developing on the film (I have never had it adversely effect my film, but I only have a couple of years of ameture film shooting under my belt with the coldest temp being about 10F one morning) and increased brittleness (fast film advance is not good).

 

The biggest issue I would think a mechanical camera would face other then film durabilty with truely abysmal temperatures (like -40F) would be that the temperature drops to low for the lubricant and the lubricant begins to harden. I don't know what the specs are on different cameras, but I think they are pretty low temp (well below 0F) for most mechanical cameras. I could pull out my OM-1's users manual to find out later if you would like. I think it is somewhere in the range of -80 to -40F (but I am pulling that out of my butt). Digital cameras of course have the issue of battery drain in really cold temps (and electronic film cameras do as well, it just isn't as pronounced).

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I taught a course in surviving winter photography. Survival for both photographer & equipment. After the camera gets cold, keep it cold. keep the batteries as warm as possible tho. Heres as example of why: What happens to eye glasses you're wearing when you come in from the cold. They fog up. This is exactly why you should keep camera & lenses cold once they get cold & not put it into a warm, moist environment inside your coat. When taking it out of your coat to use again, this condensation may freeze up. Don't forget, this fogging up happens to the internal surfaces of your camera & lenses as well, & not just the external surfaces. When coming in from the cold, the proper way to warm them is to either put them in a sealed plastic bag or leave them in the case until they reach room temperature. If you are in & out of a car shooting, keep the camera & lenses in the camera bag, only taking out when out in the cold. Twenty years of shooting in Western NY winters......
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